There's still snow on the ground in some spots of Western Wisconsin, but it won't be long until spring arrives and the grass begins to grow in our yards and in our cemeteries. The lawnmowers will come out and we'll smell that first fresh-cut grass smell that is always so welcoming in spring. Mowing cemeteries hasn't always been the norm. In fact, cemeteries weren’t landscaped and manicured in the past like they are today. Most would feature taller grasses and low growing plants (as seen in the image on the left). In the modern era the expectation is that cemeteries are kept immaculately groomed (or the caretakers will hear about it from the family of the interred). This standard, unfortunately, is often at the expense of the grave markers. Finding gravestones with dings from lawnmowers and whip marks from string trimmers is all too common. It's not always the caretakers fault...cemeteries are difficult to mow...they weren’t designed to be mowed.
Jarrod Roll...museum curator by training, preservation educator by passion. Director of the Monroe County Local History Room & Museum, Sparta, WI. Owner of Save Your Stones Gravestone Restoration Services. Maker of the Gravestone Cleaning Kit.